New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session
This poster describes findings from a transdisciplinary freshman learning initiative involving four cohorts from 2012 to 2015 with over 200 freshmen students from 59 different majors in partnership with over 30 community agencies and 20 faculty members from 5 colleges at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Although the outcomes of the initiative indicated success, the activities proved difficult for our university to support. The stated reasons included assertions of lack of efficiency and suspicion of the pedagogical methods. We have come to believe that this systemic intolerance for differences is the same dynamic that produces the persistent lack of diversity in STEM (traditionally defined as the physical sciences, technology, engineering, and math). We know other STEM change agents are struggling with these same forces that preserve past methods, approaches, and values. The common view in STEM education is that the systemic lack of diversity is a problem that needs to be fixed, rather than a predictable, normal outcome of the current system’s functioning. But from the point of view of systems thinking, the symptoms and patterns of exclusion in STEM education are rooted in the assumed and unexamined values and paradigms of the system’s architects. We, the administrators, faculty, staff and participants, create and uphold the structures, policies, and practices that produce inequity. Instead of leading for diversity, we lead by the exertion of force and control in order to achieve “efficiency” and maintain a specifically non-diverse institutional identity in service to preserving “market advantage.” We value and develop “economies of scale”, which require homogeneous thinking, action, and results—none of which support diversity of structure, thinking, action, and outcomes. To realize diversity, our paradigm must shift from an imbalanced prioritization of traditional capitalist values, such as economy of scale (one-dimensional thinking and efficiency) to economies of scope, inherently diverse in structure, thought, and action. Diversity almost certainly means a great deal of tolerance and cooperative capacity. This includes embracing conflict, ambiguity, uncertainty, and paradox, all of which are more or less antithetical to economies of scale, the academic currency of expertise, legacy definitions of efficiency, and the objectivism foundational to STEM epistemologies. Transcending these industrial era paradigms and values is required to foster diversity in higher education institutions.
Vanasupa, L., & Schlemer, L. T. (2016, June), Transcending Industrial Era Paradigms: Exploring Together the Meaning of Academic Leadership for Diversity Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27073
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